Interlude—Lawrence O'Donnell's galloping Hannityism: If you watched the Hannity program last night, you were treated to a mountain of disinformation and nonsense concerning Obama’s troubling days at the Harvard Law School.
Hannity has treated voters this way for a very long time. But one hour later, if you watched The Last Word, you pretty much got the same treatment.
MSNBC has been aping Fox News with ever-increasing fidelity. Last night, in his opening segment, Lawrence O’Donnell helped us see how the culture of Fox is being reworked for us liberals.
Lawrence spoke with two guests about Rush Limbaugh’s recent problems. Limbaugh “insult[ed] 52 percent of the population,” Howard Dean said. “This is an attack on 82 percent of women in the United States of America who Rush Limbaugh essentially called sluts,” Dean opined.
Where’s the outrage, William Bennett once asked. Last night, the outrage was strong on this “liberal” news channel. Eventually, though, O’Donnell played tape of Sarah Palin commenting on the Limbaugh episode.
At this point, we got to see the way our own liberal channel is aping the culture of Fox.
Almost anyone who watched Hannity’s program could have explained Palin’s remarks. In the course of Hannity’s show, Palin’s general point of view was fleshed out in some detail. But if you were watching MSNBC, Lawrence and one of his guests pretty much lied in your faces about these remarks. They treated their viewers precisely the way Sean Hannity has always done.
In our view, this exchange should count as a milestone. To watch the full segment, click this. Here’s the way it began:
O’DONNELL (3/7/12): Let’s listen to Sarah Palin’s version of a defense of Rush Limbaugh.Were Palin’s remarks “a defense of Rush Limbaugh?” Not exactly, if we’re still speaking English. In the clip O'Donnell played, Palin doesn’t defend what Limbaugh did and said. She claims that liberals (“leftist radicals”) do similar things without generating similar outrage.
PALIN (videotape): I think the definition of hypocrisy is for Rush Limbaugh to have been called out, forced to apologize and retract what it is that he said in exercising his First Amendment rights. And never is that, the same applied to the leftist radicals who say such horrible things about the handicapped, about women, about the defenseless. So I think that’s the definition of hypocrisy.
Palin’s statement is basically accurate, although our lizard brains may resist. Indeed: As they continued, O’Donnell and Melissa Harris-Perry pretty much proved Palin’s point—not that we, the rube liberal viewers, were encouraged to understand that:
O’DONNELL (continuing directly): Melissa Harris-Perry, as a leftist radical, I assume she’s including me in this group. I can’t remember saying any of those things she’s talking about. That’s the classic, you know, kind of deflection defense that has no meaning. That’s the best she could do, I guess.Poor Lawrence! He didn’t seem to have any idea what Palin was talking about! In response, Harris-Perry did say that misogyny “actually does end up on all sides.” She did say that “the right does not in fact have a monopoly on saying really horrible things about women with whom they disagree.”
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, it is and it isn’t. I mean, I want to pause for just a second here and point out that the right does not in fact have a monopoly on saying really horrible things about women with whom they disagree. Sexism and misogyny and the way that it ends up in our political discourse actually does end up on all sides.
For me, what is most dangerous and horrifying here isn’t the language of “slut” per se, as disgusting as that was and as much as it was directed at an individual person. I just want to keep our eyes on the fact that what the right has a monopoly on right now are a set of policy positions that actively remove the ability of women to make choices for themselves around their own health care and around their own family planning decisions.
So I worry both around race questions and gender questions when we get so fundamentally up in arms around the language? Because, you know, I hear you, that maybe we can’t find, you know, radical leftists who say mean things. But look, I have been called extremely nasty names from both the left and the right that are deeply gendered. What I care about here are the policies around the availability health care for women. And what the right does have a monopoly on is their willingness to silence women and exclude them from their own health care decisions.
O’DONNELL: Howard Dean and Melissa Harris-Perry, thank you both very much for joining me tonight.
But Harris-Perry named no names. And as she closed, she seemed to suggest that, like Lawrence himself, she pretty much couldn’t come up with such names. What follows is such a remarkable statement that we’ll run it again:
“Because, you know, I hear you, that maybe we can’t find, you know, radical leftists who say mean things.”
Really? We can’t find liberals (“radical leftists”) “who say mean things”—who engage in this type of misogyny? Unless we’re hiding behind the one silly phrase in Palin's remarks, that's basically a lie.
Harris-Perry knew who Palin was talking about. So did O’Donnell. Unfortunately, both work for a corporate “news” channel which has employed such “liberals” in prominent posts and isn’t willing to tell you about it. So they kept you from knowing some things that all viewers know at Fox.
Welcome to the Balkans! As in the Balkans of the 90s, so too on the cables during this era. The two different tribes speak different languages—are allowed to hear different facts.
On Fox, you’re allowed to know what Palin meant; obvious examples are cited. On MSNBC, you sit there and watch your tribal chieftains as they pretend to be bollixed.
In that striking exchange, O’Donnell and Harris-Perry played it dumb, just as Hannity always has done. They kept you barefoot and clueless—and tribally happy. This is the formula which has been followed at Fox.
It has made Fox anchors rich and famous. It has left Fox viewers clueless.
Last night, Hannity’s viewers heard about the unfortunate names Bill Maher has called Sarah Palin. (This includes the C-word and the Tw-word.) But over on the “liberal” channel, O’Donnell and Harris-Perry couldn’t even think of Bill’s name as they racked their brains concerning Palin’s remarks.
And of course, the repulsive conduct of Keith Olbermann will never be discussed on this channel. Watcvhing this channel, you will never have to darken your skies with thoughts of what our hero did!
Everyone at MSNBC knows about the misogyny Olbermann spewed at this channel. (He kept it up for years.) They know that he called individual persons “sluts.” They know about all the other offenses—the offenses that led those progressives to discuss his “misogyny” and his “contempt for women,” as long as they thought there were speaking in private. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/6/12.)
They know what Matthews did all those years. They know about all the names he directed at the "she-devil" Clinton. Who knows? They may even recall the sickening way he slimed Naomi Wolf!
O’Donnell and Harris-Perry know these things. They just don’t want you thinking about them! These people are your tribal friends. They want your outrage aimed at Rush—at Rush, and at Rush alone.
Lawrence and Melissa distributed soma last night, knowing it would make you happy. As we speak, your lizard brain is telling you that what they did was highly moral.
Your lizard brain is lying again. Just as the lizard brains do in the wild tribal lands where the folk are condemned to watch Fox.
Tomorrow—part 4: Rachel, not unlike Mitt